Lambert made two changes to the team that was beaten by Stoke, with Clark preferred to Baker and Albrighton starting in place of the injured El Ahmadi.
As is so often the case, the Villans started the game well.
When Rafael fouled Agbonlahor just outside the box after thirteen minutes, Westwood curled his fine free-kick over United’s disappointing defensive wall and a desperate De Gea could only help the ball into the corner of the net.
Clark then ventured forward, with a great chance to double the visitors’ lead, but headed the free-kick over the ball.
When Guzan was called into action for the first time, he was caught by Rooney as he dived to collect Young’s ball.
Following treatment, the Villa goalkeeper’s next duty was to collect the ball from the back of the net after Rooney scored with a glancing header from close range.
The home side was buoyed by the twentieth minute equaliser and soon threatened again, with Clark sliding in to block Rooney’s shot from twenty yards.
Apart from the occasional Villa break, the home team did all the running, with Kagawa, one of five changes to the team chastened by Manchester City on Tuesday, showing particular skill and animation.
On the stroke of half-time, Mata was fouled by Bacuna, allowing Rooney to bag his brace as he struck a refined penalty deep into the corner of the net.
As the second half got underway, Benteke had a great chance to level the scoring after forty-eight minutes. He took a long ball on the chest and had only De Gea to beat but somehow mishit his shot and the chance went begging.
The Belgian striker continued to cause problems for United. He leapt high to meet Albrighton’s cross but was only able to head the ball over.
Although the Villans briefly conjured up a storm, the Red Devils weathered it and added to their advantage after fifty-seven minutes. The ball bounced around in the area when the Villans failed to clear it properly and Mata remained composed and fired into the bottom corner from twelve yards to open his Manchester United account. The goal was greeted with as loud a cheer as Old Trafford has heard for some time.
The goal seemed to take the wind out of the Villans’ sails and it was plain sailing for Moyes’ men.
Bertrand found himself booked for a late challenge on Young before Benteke’s penalty shout was waved away. The Belgian powered towards goal and Vidic, who had tripped, appeared to clip him with his arm but referee Martin Atkinson was not interested in Benteke’s appeal.
Januzaj replaced Kagawa with just over twenty minutes left on the clock and almost made an instant impact, gliding past three Villa players before unleashing a low shot that Guzan got down to save.
Tonev then made a rare appearance, coming on for the ineffective Agbonlahor, before Rooney was denied a hat-trick as Guzan made the save of the afternoon to stop the England player’s powerful drive.
Three minutes later, Rooney left the pitch to a standing ovation and Hernandez entered the action.
After seventy-eight minutes, it became crystal clear that it just wasn’t Benteke’s day as he failed to make proper contact with Bertrand’s whipped cross, having done well to stay onside.
Lowton replaced Albrighton with ten minutes to go but the game was winding down and he had no chance to make an impact.
De Gea was able to watch, worry-free, as Tonev’s curler went wide.
Clark then committed a needless foul on Fellaini, earning a yellow card in the process.
Enterprising play from Januzaj in injury time allowed him to deliver a perfect cross for fellow substitute Hernandez, who finished from inside the six-yard box.
Speaking after the game, Lambert felt the scoreline was “really harsh on us” but the truth is his side has now shipped eight goals in two games and the cracks at the back need urgent attention.